Tag Archives: Lee Lefever

Twitter Search in Plain English

The Lefevers are at it again. This time it’s ‘Twitter Search in Plain English’ . It’s a very useful explanation of how you would use Twitter to gain insight about news and trending topics. Especially useful for educators. This is one of the ways we can explain to our students how to use social media to keep abreast of what people are thinking and where they are sourcing their thinking from. The links that are fed through Twitter are examples some of the most useful filtering taking place by users of the web. For breaking news it’s very hard to go past Twitter. I know that I am aware of big topics a long time before the television news media have got their act together.

Thanks once again to Lee and Sachi. You make our teaching lives a whole lot easier with the work you do.

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Commoncraft – what to expect in 2009.

“In a word: Education.”

Those are the words of Lee Lefever, and great words they are for all of us.

Commoncraft’s incredibly effective Explanations in Plain English videos have been staple products for me as teaching tools ever since I’ve discovered just how well they explain new technologies that can be quite difficult to explain. When you’re under the pump and a class of 24 year 9 girls are looking at you and expecting great things, just pull out a Lefever Plain English video and all is well. Lee has said this in a recent blog post;

“We’re convinced, more than ever, that Common Craft is an *educational* explanation company. While our library of videos is currently technology-oriented (and zombies ), our challenge in 2009 and beyond is to establish Common Craft as a company whose explanations are focused on education in multiple fields and potentially impact very broad audiences in positive ways.”

I’m going to be watching with great interest in 2009 to see what they cover. Here is their latest effort, Saving money in Plain English, something that the students we teach will find very useful.

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Networked Student – Wendy Drexler has helped us out.

Wendy Drexler has created this very useful video explaining how students can benefit from operating and learning in a connected environment. She has very cleverly borrowed from the film techniques employed by Lee and Sachi Lefever to create a very effective means of explaining what many of us try to convey to colleagues every day. She produced it as a response to questions posed by George Siemans for the Connectivism course he and Stephen Downes have been offering online.

  1. What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?
  2. How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?
  3. What types of questions are still outstanding?
  4. How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

Questions 2 and 4 are addressed in the video above. The presented scenario is definitely not a complete picture of connectivism. I think it’s a good start for a k12 classroom. I view the work with my students as networked learning incubation.

Wendy, I think your use of the word ‘good’ needs to be replaced with the word ‘great’. It’s an excellent means of transferring what so many of us think. I love the fact that it was her 15 yr old son who helped her out with the artwork and provided the narration. Great work both of you.

I had aspirations to participate in this course but just haven’t been able to find the time. Thanks Wendy for sharing with us and encouraging us to share it with others. True Connectivism at work.

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Web Search Strategies in Plain English from Commoncraft – cast your vote.

The latest from Lee and Sachi Leefever - Web Search Strategies in Plain English. In my opinion, another useful video for my students and yet another great tool for me to use. I’m indebted to them both for making my job so much easier over the last year.

 I noticed  a new button on my blog’s toolbar tonight and realised that I could insert a poll. All going well there should be a poll at the end of this post that you can use to cast your vote about the latest offering. All a bit of fun really- I’m just keen to see how it works.

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Google Reader – Commoncraft helps explain what we’re all on about!

A turning point for me in my development as an online learner, was when I set up my Google Reader and started subscribing to blogs written by teachers and people interested in education and the impact of technology on learning. Whenever I talk to people about how I made the leap from someone with no idea to someone with some idea, I make reference to the importance of my Google Reader and how it keeps me up to date with current thinking.

Now I can point them to this. Lee and Sachi Lefever from Commoncraft (almost feel like I know them now!) have made a plain English video explaining Google Reader. Google asked them to do it. Way to go Lee and Sachi!

Watch and learn.

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US election made simple thanks to Commoncraft.

Despite being at the bottom of the world (depending on which way you look at things!) and probably not even factoring in the consciousness of many American citizens, we in Australia are pretty interested in the American political process.  What America does matters to us; we are so heavily influenced by the culture, and decisions that the American Government make have ramifications for us. Just look at Iraq – Australian soldiers were deployed there almost immediately and have only just been withdrawn thanks to  the change of Government in our latest election (Labor now holds power).

That’s why this latest offering from the Lefevers at Commoncraft is going to be useful. I recently had a fantastic conversation with my Yr 7 students about the race between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrat leadership. They are very aware of who the people are but are not so aware of the processes that get them into Government. Electing a US President in Plain English explains the election process that will take place when the Democrat candidate faces the Republican candidate. They do it well. Make sure your tell your teachers about it. It’s a plain simple explanation that makes plain sense!

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Social Media in Plain English – new from Commoncraft.

Can’t believe I missed this. Well, I can actually, because my Google Reader has been playing up and I haven’t been able to load the page. This was posted two days ago on the Commoncraft blog . It’s Lee and Sachi Lefever’s latest effort explaining how social media works. They do it well, using ice-cream as an example to explain how people can produce and communicate to deliver a message or opinions with the world, using tools such as blogs, podcasts and videos uploaded to sites like YouTube.

Thanks Lee and Sachi once again. You do it so well (but I am missing the yays and boos!!)

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Podcasting in Plain English – the Lefevers are at it again!

This is going to be handy. Lee and Sachi Lefever have released a new plain english video – this time Podcasting in Plain english. The video focuses on how you download audio and video to portable devices.  I would have liked to see them show how you create a podcast – maybe they’ll address this in another video.

Creating a podcast seems to incite fear among many. I felt this way too until I went to a workshop at a conference and realised how easy Audacity was to use. I must use this again with my Yr 7 students – last year’s group had a lot of fun recording their voices and playing around with the effects.  

Thanks Lee and Sachi – once again you prove yourselves to be the teacher’s friend!

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Twitter made simple (or is it?)

This is all over the Web at the moment and plenty of people in the blogging world were heads up to it four days ago when Lee Lefever posted it on his Common Craft site and YouTube. One of the ways they found about it was from the topic of the video; twitter. Twitter is a means of social networking. You answer the question, ‘What are you doing?’, in 140 characters or less including spaces. You follow people in your network and are privy to both the mundane and useful answers to that question. I’m following people in the edublogging/education world and look at twitter throughout the day to see if there’s anything happening that I should make myself aware of.

I have to admit to having a few problems with Twitter. (I know – plenty of you out there are devotees and love it). Most of these relate to the need to achieve the right balance in our lives. I get worried about the addictive nature of feeling like you need to know everything instantaneously. I keep reading Will Richardson and his love of Twitter is obvious – he uses it as the supreme networking tool and it obviously has its advantages for someone whose working life is this Web 2.0 world. I’m a wife, mother of two relatively young children, hold down a full-time job managing a library as well as teaching English, try to keep a house in order and maintain connections with my extended family and friends. To top it off now I’m writing this blog in my spare time! Just discovering Twitter has further complicated the work/life balance I was already struggling to navigate. I know – I can already hear you out there saying, ‘No-one is twisting your arm to do this. If you don’t want to, just don’t look at it.’ And if you’re saying this you’re absolutely right. It’s up to me to find the balance I need to be comfortable doing what I’m doing without letting anything (or more importantly, anyone) drop off my radar. I almost feel like it’s the wrong time for me to be immersing myself in this world- eight years down the track and my kids would be pretty much self-sufficient (maybe!).  Can’t really do much about this now - I feel like I’m in deep and actually am loving learning again. I don’t feel stale when it comes to my working life and am excited about what education can (will?) look like in the future.

Wow. That was a fairly indulgent piece of self analysis. I don’t blame you if you switched off halfway through, but if you didn’t, thanks for listening. Needed to get that one off my chest.        

   

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Wikis – We’re on our way

It’s 2am in the morning and I can’t sleep after my son woke me up. I’ve been lying in bed thinking about all manner of things. Do you remember ‘The Proclaimers’? They were two geeky looking Scottish guys with guitars who wrote a couple of catchy songs that were hits in the 80′s. (Still going strong according to their official site – they’ve even got a myspace page!) I was thinking about Wikis and their song, ‘I’m on my way’, came to mind. The title reflects how I feel about our adoption of Wikis in our School Library. We had pathfinders which were a static page of dewey numbers, keywords, and links that we devised for projects that teachers had set. They were great, but were limited because our Electonic Services Librarian was the only one who could make changes to these pages. They’re so much better now that we’ve started moving them over to Wikis. Now they’re a dynamic collaborative tool and everyone can have input – our Library staff, other teachers and students. Once again, the Lefevers at Commoncraft can explain a Wiki better than I!

I’m working with our Yr 11 Literature class on Monday morning to help them learn how to edit the Wiki our Library has set up for their class. The Wiki has pages for the texts they are studying and each student has their own page to chronicle their reading throughout the course of the year. I’m hoping the students are going to embrace this tool and that other teachers will see the benefits of this for their classes. We’re using PBwiki to create these online spaces and are making them password protected for privacy.

If we get time we may even lift our spirits watching this YouTube video featuring the song ‘I’m on my way’. Maggi137 has cleverly used the song to create a fanvid for the new Doctor Who, David Tennant.  

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